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:: :: Issues Proliferation South Africa 2000 NPT Conference Opening Statements

The 2000 NPT Review Conference
Statement by H.E. Mr. Abdul S. Minty
Deputy Director-General Multilateral Affairs, South Africa
24 April 2000

Mr. President,

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It is a pleasure for me, on behalf of the Government of South Africa, to extend my delegation's congratulations to you on your assumption of the Presidency of the 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). I also wish to extend our congratulations to the other members of the Bureau, and especially to the Chairpersons of the Main Committees, and other organs of this Conference, on their assumption of those important tasks. Given the important issues affecting international and regional peace and security which we will be confronting during this period, and given the complexities of the matters which we will be dealing with, your assumption of this post brings with it a heavy burden of responsibility. Please be assured of my delegation's full cooperation and assistance to you in ensuring that this Review Conference has a successful conclusion.

Mr President,

To start, I wish to clearly state South Africa's principled views on nuclear weapons. our experience clearly demonstrates that nuclear weapons are not the source of security that those who possess or aspire to possess them seem to believe they are. Nuclear weapons and the threat that they pose are in fact sources of greater insecurity. As long as these weapons exist in the arsenals of some, others will aspire to possess them. International relations and the history of States clearly indicate to us that the insecurity created by the possession of superior power by a few will be countered through the need -- real or perceived -- of others to establish a balance. In the case of nuclear weapons -- the only one of the three types of weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological and nuclear) that has not been banned -- this issue is even more complicated by the threat of indiscriminate and large scale annihilation that these weapons pose to the interests and survival of humanity as a whole. As States Parties to the NPT -- the only international instrument that strives to not only prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but that also contains the legal commitment for their elimination -- we are all obligated to approach the strengthened review process fully cognisant of the expectations of all the peoples of the world not to be confronted by, or threatened with, the destructive capacity of nuclear weapons. That is why we need to direct our efforts to making the world a safer place.

Mr President,

The solemn commitments that were made to move the NPT process forward, as we reached an agreed decision for the indefinite extension of the Treaty at the last meeting of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference, will be well remembered. The undertakings that were given at the 1995 Conference, as well as in its run-up, in which it was repeatedly stated that an indefinitely extended NPT was essential for the further pursuit and achievement of the provisions and goals of the Treaty, especially as they related to the NPT's Article VI nuclear disarmament provision, are also well remembered. The time has come for us together to look back and evaluate the progress or lack of progress that has been achieved.

It will furthermore-be recalled that when South Africa introduced, at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference, the concepts and proposals for "Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty" and for the "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament" it was stated that:

So as not to draw these issues (i.e. the criticisms about the failures and delays in the implementation of the NPT's provisions) into the debate about the continued existence of the Treaty, it is desirable that the review process provided for by Article VIII(3) should be strengthened. This (it was said) could be done by the adoption of a set of "Principles for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament" which would be taken into account when the implementation of the Treaty is reviewed. These principles would not be an amendment to the Treaty; they would rather be a lodestar which would focus attention on the importance of these goals. Commitment to these Principles would be renewed at every Review to ensure that they are dynamic and that they adapt to changing circumstances. (T)hey would be the yardstick by which all the States Parties can measure their non-proliferation and disarmament achievements.

On the process of Review, South Africa further recommended that while the retention of the basic structure of the Review Conference was accepted, provision should be made for the debate and substantive consideration of specific issues by establishing subcommittees (i.e. subsidiary bodies) of the three Main Committees. These sub-committees, it was emphasised, should not be tasked with the consideration of specific Treaty articles, but should rather study a specific issue or issues which fall within the ambit of those Treaty provisions which are being considered by the parent Committee.

Mr President,

It was these proposals that were accepted and adopted by all of the States Parties to the NPT at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference that form the fundamental directives for this Conference that have been provided to my delegation by my Government. We are tasked to ensure that the bargain that was struck in 1995, and that provided the basis and the rationale for the agreement to extend our Treaty indefinitely, is met and fully implemented.

Mr President,

The review period of 1995 to 2000 is not one of the most auspicious in our Treaty's history, especially with regard to the nuclear disarmament obligations contained in Article VI. I t may be an exaggeration to say that the NPT is under threat, but it would be fair to say that developments since 1995 in areas directly related to, or having a direct impact on, the nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament provisions of the NPT contradict, and are counter productive to, the achievement of the NPT's objectives. I am here of course referring to:

- The continued, or even greater reliance, which is being placed on nuclear weapons in the strategic doctrines of the Nuclear Weapon States and their military alliance partners.

- The problems of compliance being confronted with the situations in Iraq and North Korea.

- The compliance implications of nuclear sharing in, as well as expansion of NATO.

- The nuclear test explosions conducted in South Asia.

- The delays that are experienced in bringing the START II into force and to commence negotiations on the START III.

- The potential repercussions of the proposals for a national missile defence system in the United States and the related proposals to modify the Anti-ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

- The continuing difficulties being confronted on bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force.

- The continuing inability of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva to commence its negotiations on a fissile material treaty (FMT).

It will, however, not serve the interests of the NPT well if we are to focus only on the litany of disappointed expectations and unfulfilled undertakings within the NPT regime. As South Africa stated in 1995 -- and it is unfortunate that we again have to follow this approach in 2000 -- many have, with good reason, been critical about the failures and delays:

to fully implement the disarmament provisions of the Treaty by totally eliminating the arsenals of the Nuclear Weapon States,

to provide the Non-Nuclear Weapon States with effective security assurances, and

to ensure unencumbered transfer of peaceful nuclear technology.

In our deliberation on these issues we should, however, again not be drawn into a self-defeating debate about the continued existence of the regime. There have been positive developments. These, especially in the context of the continued fulfilment of nonproliferation obligations by the vast majority of non-nuclear weapon States. Here I would highlight and congratulate those States that have acceded to the Treaty. I refer to Andorra, Angola, Brazil, Comoros, Chile, Djibouti, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu. I would also like to extend South Africa's congratulations for the recent steps undertaken by Russia with regard to the ratification of START II and the CTBT.

Mr President,

While it is important for the international community to welcome, support and encourage the bilateral nuclear arms reductions which are taking place between the United States and the Russian Federation within the context of the START process as well as unilateral steps which are being undertaken by certain individual Nuclear Weapon States it is also important not to confuse nuclear arms reductions with nuclear disarmament. A commitment to nuclear arms reductions -- which has to do with a strategic balance of power and with the removal of the Cold War's excessive nuclear destruction capacity -- does not necessarily translate into a commitment to nuclear disarmament and to a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. As a f irst step on the pathway to nuclear disarmament the Nuclear Weapon States (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States) should make an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals and, in the course of the forthcoming review period, to engage in an accelerated process of negotiations and to take steps leading to nuclear disarmament to which all States Parties are committed under Article VI of the NPT. Such an undertaking would not only be of momentous symbolic importance but would also provide the basis for greater confidence in the nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament regimes. A confidence which has, inter alia, been eroded by the development of new strategic doctrines for the use of nuclear weapons and the potential consequences of proposals to revise the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) and of new strategic doctrines which lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons. Such an undertaking would also lay the foundation for a step-by-step process which would reduce the threat of nuclear weapons, de-emphasize their importance and lead to their elimination.

Without such a clear and unequivocal undertaking, the world will always be confronted by the risk of a break-out from the nuclear non-proliferation regime established by the NPT. Such an undertaking would also demonstrate the validity of the core bargain which was struck in the NPT, namely that the overwhelming majority of States have entered into legally-binding commitments not to receive, manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices on the basis of the corresponding legally-binding commitments by the Nuclear Weapon States to the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. It would also demonstrate a commitment to the full implementation of international law as contained in the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice in its 1996 advisory opinion. This conclusion clearly stated that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

Other steps which should be undertaken by the Nuclear Weapon States on the pathway to the elimination of nuclear weapons are:

1. For START II to be fully implemented, and for the substantive negotiations on START III to commence;

2. For steps to be taken to integrate those Nuclear Weapon States, which have not been a part of START, into the process which the United States and Russia have embarked on;

3. For the five nuclear-weapon States to take a number of early and interim steps de-emphasising the role of nuclear weapons and expanding the nuclear arms reduction process with a view to their complete elimination.

4. For the principle of irreversibility to be applied in all nuclear disarmament, nuclear arms reduction and nuclear arms control measures.

While the primary responsibility for undertaking the necessary steps for the elimination of nuclear weapons lies with the Nuclear Weapon States, it should be emphasized that the obligation to work towards this goal also lies with all States. Nuclear Weapons are not only a threat to their possessors, they are a threat to all of humankind. We all share in the responsibility to reduce the nuclear threat which these weapons pose to the peoples of the world. As such there are steps in the process which cannot be undertaken by the Nuclear Weapon States alone, but which will need the participation and cooperation of the international community as a whole. These include:

1. The requirement for those three States that operate unsafeguarded nuclear facilities and that have not yet acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (India, Israel, Pakistan) to reverse clearly and urgently the pursuit of all nuclear weapons development or deployment and to refrain from any action which could undermine regional and international peace and security and the efforts of the international community towards nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation;

2. The requirement for these States to also adhere unconditionally and without delay to the NPT and to take all the necessary measures which flow from adherence to this instrument as Non-Nuclear Weapon States;

3. The early and unconditional entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; and

4. The need for the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to urgently pursue and conclude its negotiations on a fissile materials treaty.

The steps which I have identified are not exhaustive nor revolutionary. It will be recognized that I have drawn heavily from the nuclear disarmament agenda which has been proposed by the "New Agenda Coalition", and that has been introduced by the distinguished Foreign Minister of Mexico at this Conference, and which is sourced in a deep sense of concern about the lack of progress that has been achieved in our Treaty's shared and common goals. The core of the Coalition's call is for a new international agenda to achieve a nuclear weapon free world, through the pursuit, in parallel, of a series of mutually reinforcing measures at the bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral levels. An initiative which has in the context of the UN General Assembly been cosponsored by over 60 countries -- all of them States Parties to the NPT; almost a third of the States Parties -- and which is supported by an overwhelming ma3ority of the nations of the world.

As I have mentioned, what is important, from South Africa's perspective, in this initiative is the need for an unequivocal undertaking to nuclear disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons, and to a process of step-by-step measures which will lead us to our common goal. If we are unable to succeed in establishing the imperative for the elimination of nuclear weapons then we will never be liberated from the unspeakable destruction and human suffering which these weapons can cause.

In this context also, as Chair of the Movement of Non-Aligned States, we recall the principled positions of the NAM on nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear testing. The NAM, as well as other States Parties that associate themselves with the Movement, have prepared a considered and substantive working paper as a contribution to the work of this Conference. That paper also represents a clear demonstration of the expectations of a vast majority of the peoples of the world who can only rely on the voices of their representatives in this Chamber to defend their interests.

Mr President,

South Africa welcomes the steps that were taken since 1995 to strengthen the IAEA's safeguards system. The negotiations for the Additional Protocol were concluded, and already a significant number of protocols have been signed and some have entered into force. South Africa has started negotiations with the IAEA with the view to signing and ratifying the Additional Protocol soon. We support the universal implementation of the Additional Protocol. In this regard, however, we have noted with some concern that about 60 States Parties have not yet taken the first basic step before the Additional Protocol can be signed, i.e. the conclusion of a Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA as required by Article III of the Treaty. We realize that this may be mostly due to the absence of a nuclear infrastructure in many countries. Corresponding to paragraph 10 of the Principles and Objectives, those States Parties who still have to fulfil this Treaty Obligation, are urged to do so without delay. They should be reminded that in most, if not all, of their cases simplified requirements for the Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol apply. The IAEA is also urged to make a special effort to assist these States in guiding them through the process. States Parties who are in a position to do so are encouraged to assist the Agency in this important endeavour through suitable support programmes.

The IAEA now has greater legal authority than before for exercising its responsibility in the implementation of international safeguards. With this authority also comes the responsibility of integrating classical safeguards, based on highly quantitative perspectives, with new measures which are of a more qualitative nature, into a new Integrated Safeguards System. This should not result in an add-on system but in an optimized new system -flexible but effective and above all cost-efficient. This is a major challenge that will in a certain sense require a change in culture. Work is well underway in the IAEA, in Advisory Groups and through Member States Support Programmes, to reach the objectives of an Integrated System, but it is also evident that much still has to be done.

Mr President,

Non-Nuclear Weapon States Parties to the Treaty benefit potentially in two important ways. The threat that would be posed to them by the further proliferation of nuclear weapons is constrained, and under the NPT there is a promise in Article IV of the promotion of nuclear energy for peaceful uses and of the transfer of technology, materials and equipment to those countries who could greatly benefit from it.

Many interpret Article IV to be about the promotion of nuclear power. This is certainly true, but the requirements for developing States are in many instances more basic. The peaceful uses of nuclear energy in health, agriculture and industry has the potential of affecting and improving the situations of countless numbers of people.

It is for this reason that South Africa places a high premium on the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Programme, and why we are concerned about the inability of the Voluntary TC Fund to meet the legitimate needs of developing countries. In fact, we have noted that for the last 15 years or so, the needs and the resources pledged have diverged in an ever increasing way. In this respect States Parties are urged to pledge, and pay, their contributions to the TC Fund. Ways should be sought to make this Fund stable and assured as required by paragraph 19 of the Principles and Objectives.

Mr President,

There are many serious issues that will confront us at this Review Conference over the next four weeks. Our success will have to be grounded on our unequivocal commitment to all of the provisions of the Treaty and to our unequivocal commitment to ensuring that the Treaty plays its full role in the achievement and continued maintenance of international peace and security.

Mr President, I thank you